Monday, December 14, 2009

The holidays really can suck!

I'm taking a personal day.  I'm not sick, but I am feeling rather overwhelmed today.

I've felt like this for days.  I couldn't figure out why, because traditionally the holiday season hasn't carried any importance to me and my family.  But this year, with the impending divorce and a complete restructuring of our lives, we seem to have nothing on which to hang a feeling of cohesiveness.

My boys are going to spend Christmas with their father on the other side of the world, and I'm going to spend some time with my girlfriend in Southern California.  (We'll go to a spa, go to the gym, buy munchies at Whole Foods and watch a lot of mindless TV.)  My mother is whining because she assumed I would spend the ten days I'm away from the boys with her, but there isn't enough vodka on the planet for me to even consider doing that!  I keep trying to figure out why I'm in such a funk for a season that doesn't mean much to me.  I think it's because I want to recharge our sense of family but I don't really know how.

So today I gave up, for the day, on caring for myself, cleaning house, filing papers and paying bills.  I am just sitting around the house, watching HGTV and really lame Lifetime and Hallmark Christmas dramas, eating sourdough toast.  And as I sit on my favorite wicker chair, I look around my house and wish it was clean and wish I knew how much decorating for the holidays I should do.  I'm conflicted.  If we're not going to be here, then why bother.  And yet, I want to change up what's going on around the house, get a different feel for the house, warm it up, so that the boys will know they have a real home to come back to, and that this is where we experience family.

I'm having the carpets and windows cleaned this week, and Merry Maids will be coming in to get everything else cleaned before the end of the year.  The boys come back on the 30th, so they will come back to a clean home, everything organized, and some winter decor in place. (I don't do the Santa thing...we decorate with snowmen!)  We'll have a small New Year's Eve dinner, just the three of us.  Then on New Year's Day, I'm hosting an open house for family and friends, with lots of food and drink, conversation, music, games and a massive Halo 3 event with wall-to-wall boys of all ages.  I'm inviting everyone who has been instrumental in helping us feel at home since returning to California.  We've very grateful to them all!

Maybe this New Year's Day celebration will become our annual family thing.  Maybe that sense of family cohesiveness will gain some traction that day and we'll be starting the new year in the right direction.  I hope we can find our new family identity, one we can all share and believe in.  We used to be world travelers, but that was really only an activity and didn't mean anything with regards to developing character and a strong sense of family and purpose, which is the direction in which I really want us to move.  I'm not sure how to do that, yet.

I'm still surprised how writing all this down makes me feel better.  I actually want to get a shower now!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Almost recovered

I have been sick for over a week now.  Caught it from my son.  Despite the greens, vitamins and extra water, I wasn't able to avoid catching a bad sinus infection.  But perhaps it was helpful in my recovery as well as preventing the infection from turning into bronchitis, which is what usually happens.

Yesterday I had yet another headache from the stuffy sinuses, and I went through a lot of Kleenex.  Today was a little better.  I didn't really feel like eating anything, and the idea of lifting a weight or taking one step on to my elliptical cross trainer was the furthest thing from my mind.  I have heard of people who were upset at being too sick to exercise.  Now that's crazy!

However, I do understand that regular exercise helps prevent the flu. According to WebMD, when "...moderate exercise is repeated on a near daily basis, there is a cumulative immune-enhancing effect, which leads to a sustained response by the immune system to illness. When you exercise, your white blood cells - the blood cells that fight infections in the body - travel through your body more quickly, fighting bacteria and viruses (such as flu) more efficiently. To maintain good health, experts recommend at least 30 minutes of aerobic activity..."

Alternately, "...extremely vigorous forms of exercise, including working out for hours at the gym and running marathons, can have a negative effect on your immune system. Studies show that extreme workouts can decrease the number of white blood cells flowing throughout your body while increasing the level of stress hormones, such as cortisol and adrenaline, in the bloodstream. These emergency hormones help you cope with the physical stress but can also increase your likelihood of illness."

But what should we do when we're sick?  Take it easy.  Being sick is stressful on the body, so some downtime will allow the body to rest and let the immune system do its job without the energy drain from exercise.  Definitely avoid exercise when a fever is present.  It would only increase the chances of dehydration and delay recovery.  Wait a few days after flu symptoms have gone before contemplating physical exertion.

Instead of laying around in bed, I did have enough energy to clean the living room and dining room.  I didn't overdo it, I promise.  And my sweet older son actually did the dishes without my having to ask him, and I was able to finish washing up the counters and stove.  The boys made their own dinner.  Thank God for Trader Joe's burritos!

I miss having a housekeeper.  When I lived overseas I had a very good household staff, and when I got sick, I was well cared for.  When I could concentrate on just getting well, I'd usually recover in a few days.  But when I'm running kids to after-school activities, running errands for my parents, doing the laundry, writing a paper for my Myth and Literature class and looking for a job in this economy, its taking much longer to recover!

One more day of "taking it easy at home" and I'm going to get really edgy and cranky.  Perhaps tomorrow I'll blow everybody off and nap.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Staving off flu season

My wee one is home sick today.  He's got a low-grade fever.  I'm feeling rather icky myself.  My lymph glands feel swollen and I've had a raging headache for a few days.  Not enough sleep, too much post-holiday pecan pie. (It was better the second day, and even better the third and fourth days!)  I just got back from the salon, where I was turned away due to a sickly stylist.  Everyone's feeling yucky now.  I decided to head for Safeway and see what ingredients I could gather for my next round of healthy, flu-fighting meals.

Quercetin seems to be something that builds the immune system, so I got some foods high in that nutrient: apples, onions, citrus, broccoli, leafy greens, cranberries and organic tomatoes.  Other foods that aid the immune system include homemade chicken soup, green tea (catechins), sardines and wild-caught salmon (Vit D), yogurt (with live active cultures or probiotics) and spicy peppers (high in Vit C).

My shopping list included the following: kale, Swiss chard, apples, oranges, grapefruit juice (unsweetened), oil-packed sardines, organic chicken broth and green tea.  I'm going to make some kale for lunch, after I take a mid-morning nap.  I'm feeling rather achy right now and I think a good power nap is in order.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Phew! Thanksgiving's done, 35 days of celebrating to go!

I just got home from spending a few days with my sister and her family for Thanksgiving.  I enjoyed my time with them, but it still seems like an awful lot of work invested in such a small degree of return.  By the end of the day, I was too tired to relax without falling asleep, and I didn't even eat that much!

I had a little bit of everything: turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, dinner roll, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, salad, Brussels sprouts, spanakopita and a turkey meatball (that last one was my mother's contribution - I have no idea why she brought meatballs).  We had opted not to make any appetizers, and that was a very wise decision.  I made all the desserts and didn't eat any of them!  Just didn't feel like it.  I did go back for seconds on the turkey, stuffing and gravy.  Still, I wasn't overly stuffed at all.  So, combine all that food with a couple glasses of wine and by 4:30 p.m., my sister's leather sofa was singing its siren song and not even the general squealing of elementary school-aged kids could rouse me.

Today I'm feeling okay, still a little sleepy.  I just read that turkey doesn't contain any more tryptophan in it than any other poultry.  Yesterday's somnolence was probably more attributed to my being such a light weight when it comes to drinking alcohol.  First glass of wine makes me agreeable and the second one puts me to sleep.  Add to that recipe the carbs...I should have brought a Snuggie!

So, I didn't exercise at all, formally.  But doesn't slaving in the kitchen for two days count for something?

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Getting straightened out

I went over to my parents' house the other day. My dad answered the door. It was the first time that I noticed I'm taller than him. He's got multiple myloma, a cancer that eats away at his bones from the inside out, and right now it's feasting on his spine. As a result, his once 6'4" frame is curled over to achieve a height of 5'9". He reminded me of my grandmother, his mom, who in her youth was a solid 5'8", but by the time she reached her 70s, had a pronounced dowager hump...and that caused me some alarm. Because I favor my dad and grandmother, and I'm starting to curl over at my shoulders. It's just starting to be a little bit of an effort to stand up straight to my full 5'11". And I like being tall!

It's time to do something about this, but I'm not sure what, exactly. As I consider my postural dilemma, I understand how sitting at a computer for hours isn't helping me at all. I have an ergonomic chair, but it just doesn't fit at my bedside table where I'm working right now. I need to rethink my workspace.

I see how the weight I carry in front (the belly) pulls my whole posture forward and down. That's where the effort to stand straight goes. That's an issue with my core, and despite how much I loathe core exercises, I need to get over myself on that as well. I think I need to find some good back workouts to strengthen the muscles that pull me up as well.

I tried finding some advice on this online, but as usual, tons of site and books that talk about the problem and not many that actually show you what to do. I went to one of my sources for info, and a fellow fat-burner gave me some tips on what to do.

"Training your core and upper body will help your posture tremendously.

For the core I recommend plank variations of all kinds and make sure you include side planks for the obliques.

For the upper body, there are so many variations, but I think push ups and pull ups and chin ups are great. For the upper back area decline push ups with your toes on a bench are incredible for posture support. If you can't do them with toes on a bench, lay across the bench at thigh or knee level and then work your way down to the toes.

I highly recommend body weight exercises done in plank positions for over all posture.

Also, make sure that your glute, hams and quads and hip flexors are conditioned and gently stretched...especially the hip flexors. When you sit alot they get shortened and pull your upper body down and forward. Doing a lunge stretch for the hip flexors every day will go a long way."

I just sent an email to the senior executive physiologist at Vermont's Green Mountain Spa, LynnAnn Covell, about this. As soon as she writes back I'll share what I've learned. In the meantime, I'm seeing some planks in my immediate future!

Friday, November 13, 2009

The slippery slope of holiday eating

I recently heard (I think it was Dr. Oz, so it must be true) how eating the amount traditionally expected at Thanksgiving gets one's stomach so distended and digestion system so out of whack that it takes six weeks for the stomach to recover.  And what lies just six weeks after T-day?  Christmas.  And six weeks after that, it's my 49th birthday!  Good God!  How much eating can one body take?!

Okay, so, with all that overeating, it's normal to gain 5 to 10 over the winter months.  I do NOT want to go down that road.  By my 49th birthday, I am determined to break the 300 lb barrier!  It's just 13 lbs away!

My body has been highly resistant to shedding weight for the last year. I had scaled back the calories, often, plus cut way back on the carbs, but nothing was budging.  Or if the scale did dip down below 310, I quickly rebounded.  I recently experienced a series of three days when it seemed to be my mission to eat out the whole planet, as well as single-handedly ridding the world of carbs by eating them all.  I was eating nearly 3000 calories a day (but there was absolutely no junk or fast food involved).  And I didn't gain a single ounce!  This morning, my weight popped up to 315.  I think I just needed to re-fuel my machine, get the engine burning again.  So today, I'll get my calories back down to 1800 and see where we go from here.

I'm not waiting till New Year's Day to make a new fitness resolution.  It starts now...15 lbs. by my birthday.  That's just 12 weeks.  I hear my divorce should be finalized by my birthday too.  Damn!  That's going to be an awesome week!

So, here's the plan...

Take my meds and vitamins, religiously.

Daily caloric intake: 1800 Calories
Nutrient mix for fat burning: 40% protein, 40% carbs, 20% fat
Eating sugar, no processed foods, NO SOY!!!  Lots of veggies and plenty of water.

60 - 90 minutes aerobic activity, 6 days a week (rowing machine, elliptical cross trainer, walking and Fit Ball)
2 - 3 days a week core DVD work
6 days a week weight training, split routine (upper or lower plus abs)

Since I haven't exercised in awhile, I'll spend this weekend with gentle walking, getting used to my equipment again, and lots of bouncing on the Fit Ball.

Maintenance of sleep hygiene: Go to bed by 10, get up at excuses on this one!  I've found that adequate sleep is the make-or-break for me with regards to exercise.

Get outside for an hour everyday for sunlight.

Remember to laugh and spend time with my boys, friends and to spend my one day off from exercise doing something fun.

Weekly massages.

Okay, that's enough for now.  My first action is to drink water and take my meds and vitamins!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Weight is down again

Back down to 313 this morning. I did a little overeating last night and still dropped weight, so the meds do work with reducing water retention.

It's the first foggy day of the year...I really missed this weather over the last 25 years! I love the fall, the crispness of the air, the leaves changing. I've got my sweaters out and I'm happy to dress in cozy knits. Wish I could burn some logs in the fireplace. I'll have to ask the landlord if I am allowed to use it, because it looks like it's never been utilized.

Today I'm cleaning out the pantry, again. It's amazing how quickly it gets messy. Over the last few weeks I've bought some OXO storage canisters and I need to fill them and organize the whole place. The boys have reluctantly agreed to join in on the healthy eating routine. Quinn has lost 20 lbs since he moved in with us in July, and that's just from changing some of the things he was eating. Rhyan struggles, just like his mother. I evaluated his diet, because I'm the one who provides all his calories, and he's just not eating enough to be gaining weight on, and he's not eating unhealthy snacks or drinking sodas or fast food. So I don't know why he hasn't lost any significant weight since July. Only about five pounds. And that fluctuates.

Rhyan's got a terrible dry rash all over his body, so I'm putting us all on an elimination diet to discover allergies. It's a similar rash that Quinn has, and I had it as a child as well. For me, it just went away after I turned 20. But I don't think I want to wait that long for the boys.

I think we're going to do some form of Dr. Weil's anti-inflammatory diet, plus eliminate all dairy and processed foods from our diet for the next few weeks. Hopefully we'll see some good results.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Weight is up again

I'm back up to 318 today. I haven't weighed this much in weeks, and I'm very annoyed by it. I know why I've gained and I guess I'm annoyed because I was off plan for only two days in very small ways. It took so little to gain the weight back.

First I didn't take my water pill yesterday. I drank my usual amount of water and my body decided to retain it. Not happy about that! Second, soy has been creeping in to my diet again because I relaxed my vigilance. This creates inflammation and that means retained water.

Back to keeping a tight rein on everything. I have to stay on top of this!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

At peace with the food and moving forward

Today, I'm feeling what I think is a healthy disapproval of my body. I still feel good about myself as a person, I feel centered and I also feel attractive. I recognize that I'm not doing everything that I can to be losing weight, and I feel a renewed sense of urgency to shed more weight...not the typical frustrations and lament that the statement "I'm so fat" brings with it.

I can see now and accept that I've been very subtly sabotaging my progress because I wasn't entirely ready to move forward. I am a stubborn woman. I do not want any part of my weight loss journey to be for anyone but me, for the purest reasons. I think I've sufficiently gotten over enough of my divorce/relationship/expectations demons to move on.

I am soooooooooo over fast food! And soooooooo over emotional eating! Is it possible that I've made my peace with food?

Monday, November 2, 2009

Three gulps of Coke

Tonight I went through the Jack-In-The-Box drive-thru on behalf of my son on our way home from his night class.  I had finished eating dinner around five o'clock and didn't plan to eat after that. I forgot to plan about how to handle the drive home from night school, which is a new but short-lived part to our routine.

(Must remember to plan for tomorrow night.)

I ordered a Jumbo Jack meal, with small fries and small drink. The drink was far bigger than I wanted. I wasn't hungry to begin with. I don't really know why I agreed to this detour. I ate the burger, a few of the fries (they were NOT what I wanted and I'm really not going back there). And again, the Coke tasted bitter. I had a few gulps, then threw it all out, with the fries, when we got home. Blech!

Now I feel itchy and my brain is on the move. I hope I can go to sleep.


Saturday, October 31, 2009

Skipping Halloween

I don't remember Halloween being such a big deal when I was younger, or even 10 years ago. The boys and I decided to skip the festivities this year. They're too big for the trick-or-treating, I'm too concerned about health and money to enable widespread candy debauchery.

Still, when it came down to the "witching hour", my youngest, who is 12, was dragged off by his friend who was accompanying his three-year-old cousin. I let my son go, as this would be his first go at Halloween in the U.S. After the rudeness he encountered in the neighborhood, we're completely skipping Halloween from now on.

It wasn't the revelers out and about that were the problem. It was the adults at home. Several of them felt it was their duty to verbally point out how my son didn't need to be getting any candy due to his weight. They gave quite a bit more to the three-year-old, and a few extra pieces more to my son's friend, but my son only got one piece from each of them.

I am not upset that my son got the single piece of candy from these rude people. I'm upset that they felt the need to shoot off their mouths about his size. And only skinny, really young people "deserved" to be handed ridiculous amounts of the very substance they believed led to my son's physical size?

I want to go to all their houses, shove their pitiful little candy back into their faces and give them a piece of my mind! And then I will challenge them to do as many squats as my son can do! He beat nearly all his classmates at his tae kwon do class for holding a squat position, and the only person who beat him was a very tiny girl! And after that I will gladly educate them as to how we need to be combating obesity in America, not by promoting and supporting a ridiculous holiday just because it's a tradition (because we didn't even answer the door at our house), nor by verbally embarrassing children who weigh more than others, but by not supporting industry that creates and distributes foods that do not support our health. And then I would read to them about manners and courtesy, how good manners are all about treating everyone with respect. Even fat people. I would point out to them that we fat people are not a headless, silent minority and their personal whipping boys.

I'm thinking of a lot more I'd like to do to them all, because they shot off their mouths at my son, but I will refrain. I reminded my son that what those people said was more about their lack of character than anything, and certainly had nothing to do with him. And I will let it go so that it doesn't become a big deal to him. And I will continue to support my son with healthy food and opportunities for exercise and activities that promote health and exercise good character.

Maybe these people weren't loved adequately. I'm certainly having a hard time with it!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

I'm cold and that makes me want to eat carbs

Just a few days ago, temps were back in the 80s and I was quite annoyed by that. I wanted to be cold! Emotionally, I'm really ready for it to be winter.

So today I was cold. And it was nice. I got out my heavier winter jeans, put on a actually wasn't that cold. Mostly I really wanted it to be cold. And I wanted to eat winter foods to get warm. I made a pot of my brothy charro beans (pinto beans, bacon, onion, celery, tomatoes, green chilies) and a skillet of buttermilk cornbread and we ate well for dinner. During the day, I had brown rice with turkey meatballs and some sauteed spinach on the side. I drank hot tea and coffee.

I kept eating and drinking, hot foods to warm me, all day long. Could not stop and could not get warm! I ended up going for a nap just to warm up under the bed covers and to stop eating. Tonight I've got a little acid tummy from overeating. And I'm still cold. But I'm not hungry any more! Finally.

I think tomorrow I'll be trying more brothy soups with less carbs and more veggies. And maybe I need to increase my protein again. When I'm cold, I eat more carbs and less protein and I think that's why I get hungry. I've got some baby bok choy in the fridge, so perhaps I'll cook that in a broth-based soup with ginger and garlic, scallions and some shredded chicken and soba noodles.

I've also got a small stockpile of winter squash. I've never eaten acorn squash and I'm considering that as well. I just read how spices like ginger, garlic, cinnamon and nutmeg can help increase body heat and help circulation, so a spiced winter squash medley sounds tasty.

Have you noticed I'm not talking about exercise? Yeah, I noticed that too. Hmmm.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Fighting the fat cravings

Fatty foods really are my downfall. I love butter. I love olive oil, avocados, mayonnaise. Peanut butter on my celery, cream cheese on a bagel...cheese! I love cheese! Melted, spread, sliced and in a sandwich.

I don't love fried foods, which is a good thing. Last night I indulged, in a moment of weakness, and got some KFC. It was awful! It didn't taste good and felt terrible on my tongue. I'm not going there again!

This morning I got an email from the Real Age website. I subscribe to a newsletter from them. In it there was a link to an article on supplements that helps fight fat cravings. Today I'm going to look at my cabinet and see if my vitamin packs include the calcium/vit D combo. And if not, that's what I'm buying today!

The theory is that when someone is low on calcium they go for foods higher in calcium, like cheeses and other fatty dairy products (oh...sour cream is lovely too!), so getting enough calcium cuts the cravings. After that, adequate calcium intake seems to burn more calories from fat as well. Vitamin D is required for proper calcium absorption. You can get vit D from just 10-20 minutes in the sun every day.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

I feel 100 lbs. lighter!

Today was the last day of the Wired for Joy retreat. It was an amazing day for me. I had a huge, HUGE breakthrough regarding anger. I came to understand that I've stayed stuck in anger in order to avoid sadness, and I use humor to release me from the anger. In a small group setting, I was able to go through a cycle, examining my emotions, where the anger came from - fear and shame, and not feeling like I was good enough.  Those were my essential pains. They gave rise to the sadness, and loneliness as well. I was able to work through all of that to come to the conclusion, at the end of the seminar, that I am my own champion in life. And that's what I've been experiencing ever since.

I seriously doubted that statement on occasion throughout the day, especially on my five-hour drive home, through Yosemite. I didn't see much of the park. I cried for the first three hours, solidly, then intermittently once I could get radio signals again and I heard a series of love songs that would tip me over the edge again. I eventually felt free from the sadness, and I came to accept my role as champion of my life. And then a U2 song came on, one that always seemed to trigger tears and loads of guilt regarding my marriage. But with the new outlook, the song's lyrics suddenly sounded pathetic! Weak and cowardly! What a blessing!

There's going to be another seminar in April, this time in Tiburon. I may go to that one as well. In the meantime, I've hooked up with a provider for the method and I think we're going to get to work in the next couple of weeks.

But first, I need some good sleep!

I'm so glad to be home with my boys!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Getting wired for joy

I've been at the Solution Method retreat for just one day and it feels like a week has gone by...I've done that much work! Today is Day 2, and I'm both excited and dreading it. What will I learn today?

Yesterday I attended a class that explained the method. It's a way to retrain the brain to stop going to old, ill-conceived solutions to emotional events that keep one mired in a loop of pain. With this method, we learn to evaluate all the emotions experienced in the moment, to go ahead and feel them, talk ourselves through the pain to find what is at the heart of the matter. We discover our realistic expectation, filter out the unrealistic ones and then decide what to do about it. It's a method that will bring us to joy, real genuine joy. It helps create opportunities for true, adult, mature intimacy on many levels, without feeling trapped by a relationship.

Last night I got a little ahead of myself and tried to work through all my pain surrounding my divorce...I guess that was a little too ambitious of me. I'm not that good with nurturing myself yet, and I got trapped in a downward spiral of emotions. I had to call my girlfriend to help me see the big picture, the humor in my ambition to move on past the divorce in one night. It's so good to have a grounded friend!

Today we talk about how when we're freed from all the energy spent grinding through emotional pain, how to redirect that energy into passion and creativity. I'm really looking forward to that.

If you want to learn more about The Wired for Joy work, you can read about it at The Solution Method website.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

A little me time

I'm leaving for June Lake, CA in a little bit. I'm going on a retreat sponsored by The Solution Method, which I've studied in the past for learning how to rewire my brain to take wiser steps in life and not fall into old behaviors that have become my go-to stress reactions.

Like the one I'm experiencing now. Guilt, for leaving the boys alone for the weekend while I'm off learning new stuff and enjoying the mountain air, massages, meeting new people, finding quiet moments to myself just to think. And I'm on the cusp of canceling the whole thing, because the "mommy" in me is freaking out. All sorts of thoughts are crowding through my mind...what if something happens to me and they'll have to go live with their father and their lives will be disrupted all over again just when we were beginning to find our footing. What if something happens to them while I'm gone and I couldn't bear it if anything took my sons out of my life. See, that's the sort of thing that's been churning through my head for two days. The logical, rational being in me is being drowned out at the moment. And instead of packing, I'm screwing around on the computer, playing sudoku, answering emails...I should at the very least be folding the laundry.

I still have about an hour's worth of tasks to complete before I go. Screw the laundry. I'm making a big, sorted pile on my bed and the boys can take it from there.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Goals can change

Today I had a fantastic experience. My boys and I went sailing on the Stars and Stripes Sail USA-11 boat (she won the 1992 America's Cup) and actually got to work on the boat as we sailed around San Diego Harbor. What a ride! It was a beautiful day, with good cloud cover to shade us (no one got a sunburn). I wasn't at all sure about getting my hefty self on the boat, much less actually get out to raise sails, steer, assist with navigation and tactics, tack and jibe and grind winches. But I did it! For nearly three hours. My biceps, triceps, knees and thighs are sore, but its a good kind of sore because I got that way due to something I really enjoyed doing. We even got up to 12 knots, with one side of the boat up in the air. I didn't want to leave!

So, that activity let me know that I really could work as a real crew mate on a sail boat and learn how to do it all, even at 300+ lbs. It would really work my muscles, and I would gain a lot of joy from the activity.

Up until today I wondered if I would be able to do this. I also really wanted it, and I wasn't going to learn if I could do it until I ventured out and took the chance. It opens up other ideas in my head.

But one dream was shut down today, and that's okay. I wanted to build/restore my own boat, live on it and sail it. As I spoke with the other regular crew mates, I came to the understanding that the best boats are those owned by other people, because they're very expensive to maintain and a lot of work. And I suck at that sort of thing! I came to the conclusion that I need to make some new friends, people who own boats and need a crew. Or I can just pay to go on a voyage as a crew mate. And if I want to live on a boat, I can always rent one for a period of time!

I can still learn woodworking. Maybe I'll make furniture. For the new friends who own sailboats.

Monday, October 12, 2009

An opportunity for a paid writing gig!

I got an email from Nature Made today. They've got a contest to find someone who will blog daily, for six months, about natural ways to stay in a good mood. And it's a paid position! So I wrote an extremely long list of reasons why I should have the job, it's posted to their website, and now I just need all my friends and cohorts to vote for me so I can pass Phase 1 towards getting the job.

You've got until October 30th to vote. The site allows one vote per IP address per day. So if you know some people who would be interested in helping me, by all means lead them to the link and ask them to vote for me everyday as well. So far, the leader has over 2,000 votes. We've got some catching up to do!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Sleepless in Northern California

I'm having another one of my sleepless nights. They happen every once in awhile, when I get overwhelmed with life, the universe and everything. I couldn't shut my brain down for over an hour after I went to bed, so I got up and got some work done. Bathroom is clean. Clean clothes are sorted and ready to be ironed, folded and put away. Lots of papers have been sorted. Trash thrown out. I watched "Saturday Night Live" (it was lame).

I checked my email. There was a note from Debbie Ford, one of those self-help emotional/spiritual gurus. I like reading stuff from her website, but I've never bought any of her books. I have enough self-help books that I've never read. Somehow, just possessing them feels good, like I'm doing something, or prepared to move forward. Apparently I'm imminently prepared to move forward.

Anyway, in her new book, The 21-Day Consciousness Cleanse (what more do I need to cleanse?), she has a poem about letting go of the past. It seemed appropriate for tonight.


Let all those who guide me support me in peeling away
whatever it is that keeps me blind to what's possible,
that keeps me hidden from my greatness,
that keeps me separate from my loved ones.
Today, I ask you to lighten my heart, to lift my burdens,
my worries, my fears, my anxieties, my grief
so that I may know and cherish all that I am.
I see it (allow yourself to see what your life would look
like unhooked from your past and liberated from your
I feel it (remember a time when you felt the whole world
and all its possibilities were open to you),
I acknowledge it right now
and so I know that it is.

See, I was experiencing a good bit of anxiety as I lay in bed. I was feeling crowded because my bedroom was full of laundry that needed attention, paperwork that needed to be filed, books to be put away, dust to be dusted, etc...and it seemed my forward progress in life was constantly being inhibited by housekeeping chores, tires needing rotation, parents needing attention, kids needing to be fed and loved. And once again, I saw the expanse of my life in terms of meeting others' needs and never caring for my own. And then I experienced anxiety for my own mortality and the not know what I currently believed about God and the afterlife, much less what is spiritually expected of me in the current life that buys me a ticket to the afterlife party. And I struggled with the urge to pray out of fear. (I don't like my spiritual life to be motivated by fear. If I'm going to exercise my faith, I want it to be a positive experience.)

So instead, I came downstairs and started another load of laundry, ate two all-beef hotdogs and got on the Internet for a rousing game of sudoku and checked my email. How's that for a late-night moment of personal growth?

Have you read The Official Vanity Club Archives of Chuck Lorre, who is the writer/producer of "Big Bang Theory", "Two and a Half Men" and other shows? They are little commentaries he's written and briefly flashes on the screen at the end of each show. He's got them all online. When you can't sleep, they're a great read. And it keeps me from spending more money at for yet another self-help book.

I need a new therapist. And to go to bed.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Planning ahead for a healthy vacation

When I go on trips, depending on who I'm going with and what we're doing, I either gain at least 8 lb or lose 10 lb. With my upcoming trip to San Diego and L.A., I'd prefer the latter. I started thinking about the trips where I lost weight and tried to determine why. Here are the conclusions I have drawn...
  1. I went with someone who wasn't into food as much as me - and that's usually my girlfriend Molly. She's into food, actually, sometimes more than me, but she's not into eating all the time. Once we went to London for 10 days. We woke up late, finally got to breakfast around 11 at a little cafe across the street from Harrod's, we ate a traditional English breakfast (I just love the big serving of mushrooms!). We were full, so we didn't feel like eating until something like eight o'clock. Although I do recall stopping for a coffee and scone around three o'clock. Dinner was traditional English fare (Molly and I like eating native cuisine wherever we travel), but I never ate more than her. We enjoyed an occasional beer, wine or spirit. We were very relaxed about our food choices, but didn't try to eat everything.
  2. I went with someone who was disinclined to veg - and again, Molly loves to walk. Same trip to London...we never hired a cab or caught the bus. We walked everywhere. We walked a mile to breakfast. Once we were done with breakfast, we hit the streets and walked non-stop, all over the city. London is great that way. So much to see and do on foot. We walked at least five miles a day. I was determined to keep up with Molly, who is a runner. I made her slow her pace, but our duration was pretty evenly matched. By our fifth day, she begged me to stop for a break, telling me that I had worn her out. That pretty much blew me away! I was so proud of myself! And when I got home from that trip, I was rewarded with the 10 lb. loss.
  3. I went with someone who wasn't on a schedule - and that means a stress free holiday. We had the opportunity to sleep as much as we needed. We laughed a lot. We enjoyed ourselves immensely. We took in what sights we wanted and knew we could go back to see more some other time. Our activities were varied and interesting. We scheduled some spa time. We wore comfortable clothes and shoes. And we spent time apart as well to pursue what we wanted to do on our own, or to do nothing at all.

There have been times when I traveled with some who weren't supportive of health, but we did experience some rejuvination. Once I went to Jakarta with a group of American expatriate women. We all stayed in the same hotel, everyone went off to do their shopping, spent time at the hotel spa and then we agreed to meet together in one of the rooms before going out to dinner. We had all stopped at the duty-free liquor store for some wines, so when we got to the room, about 15 of us popped corks, order appetizers and enjoyed the rest of the evening until someone called security. I don't recall losing weight that week. I don't recall much else from that week. I do recall grown, middle-aged women jumping on the beds like school girls, mercilessly flirting with our cute and very young and impressionable "butler" (yes, it was a great hotel), lots of slurring of speach, and an agreement was struck similar to the what-happens-in-Vegas I'm not mentioning any names here. It was fun! Wish I could do that again!

Traveling with the ex during our marriage was never fun. There was a lot of activity. I recall a lot of knots in my stomach, tension, not enough sleep, and being dragged all over the planet in very uncomfortable vehicles in search for the ultimate thrill ride. I ate my way through all those trips.

So this time it's me and the boys. I'm in charge of this trip. I'm doing all the driving. I planned the itinerary, but the boys did have input. We will have one big challenge, getting them motivated to stay active throughout the trip. My older son is a bit of a loner at times. He likes doing some things on his own. He's 17, so I understand that. There might be times when I leave him alone in the hotel. But not everyday. He's going to be spending time with me and his little brother and do family things. Because this is why we're going on vacation, for some fun-based family bonding.

Another issue around vacationing with teens is diet. I remember going to amusement parks with my parents and having to go out to the car to eat lunch in the parking lot. And I hated it. I always wanted to eat at the Blue Bayou at the Pirates of the Carribean ride. I just looked up their menu. Jeez! Talk about pricey! So I understand why my parents preferred hardboiled eggs and celery in the car, but I still don't want to do that. I looked up the restaurants at the San Diego Zoo. I spied out some good, fresh cuisine, lots of veggies and grilled meats available, and some solid teen-friendly selections. Universal Studios is similarly outfitted, both inside the park and just outside along their City Walk. So, lunches are covered.

We're staying at the Holiday Inn. I can choose a healthy breakfast there. But I'm still packing the ice chest for a few snacks. I'm going to bring along some hard-cooked eggs, my stash of Trader Joe's sardines packed in olive oil and Wasa crackers. I'll pick up some local produce (avocados!) as well. Since we'll be in the parks for a couple of days and we'll eat lunch there, I have no problem resorting to soup and salads in the hotel for dinner. There's a Whole Foods just north of the zoo and a Trader Joe's close to the hotel in Hollywood. We won't starve!

I'm shooting for plates at least half full of veggies. I won't be drinking alcohol during the trip. No fried foods. Lots of water.

So, diet is well covered. As for exercise, while we're in the parks, there will be lots of walking. We'll spend part of one day walking the beach. We'll walk all over the historic downtown area of San Diego. We'll rent bikes and ride along the beaches. Walking is involved with marathon shopping. I don't know if we'll average five miles a day, but I'll do my best. I'm looking into a sailing trip or some kayaking. That may be pushing it.

As far as other activities we can do for fun and stress relief, the boys and I are going to see Spamalot one night in Costa Mesa. I plan to do a spa day with my girlfriend when we stay with her. We'll be visiting the Laserium in Hollywood one night, the Beatles show. I tried to get tickets for the U2 show, but it's already sold out. We'll head for the Griffith Observatory one night as well. I would love to go to some art museums, but that will be met with resistance.

I'm dreading the drive. Eight to nine hours to San Diego. Every time we stop adds time to the trip. My car holds 14 gallons of gas and gets about 20 mpg on the freeway. That's one stop at Tejon Ranch before we go over the Grapevine. Around half way to San Diego. We can stop there for lunch, I guess, but I don't remember finding good places to eat there. Starbucks, McDonald's, Foster Freeze, Jack-in-the-Box, Subway...

How about I just pack something.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Laundry day

I'm feeling sorry for myself this morning...that tub of ricotta cost me on the scale. It's one of those foods to which I add extra salt and even though I've been on track with the calories for the last couple of days, the extra salt I tend to eat when I'm sick (so I can taste the food) packed on an extra five pounds over the last two days. I'm not going to weigh myself until we get back from San Diego. I'll just stay on track with the food, drink plenty of water, enjoy my time with the boys and walk a lot.

I have so much to do before we leave!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Struggling with a head cold

I've had a bad head cold for two days! It started after I cleaned the garage on Tuesday. We kicked up a lot of dust that I never got a chance to clear out when we moved in, so since the boys are out of school for two weeks, I took the opportunity to get one of them to help me. It looks really nice now, but I've been sneezing for three days, wheezing and coughing for the last two. I drank a lot of water and homemade turkey soup yesterday (Greek style, with lots of lemon - yum!) But I don't seem to feel any better yet. I just started with the echinacea and zinc, plus an extra dosing of cayenne pepper capsules. I hope that kicks it by the weekend.

Have you had a look at the list of blogs on the right of this page? Those are blogs of people similarly engaged with getting healthy. I noticed that everyone has come to similar nutritionally smart and healthy portions, no gimicks, no miracle products, exercise every day, sleep adequately, and manage stress. Would have saved a lot of money over time if I did all that from the beginning! The latest blog I've added is by Dianne from Fit to the Finish. She's been peeking in on me too...Hi Dianne!

And I wanted to add here, to Screaming Fat Girl, and everyone else who peeks in on me, thank you for checking in and letting me know, in one way or another, that you're there. Because you're really helping me stay on track. I really appreciate it!

Okay, I haven't been eating according to the plan set a couple of days ago, because there's nobody here that will make it for me! And when I'm sick, I just don't feel like spending time in the kitchen. And the boys only want to cook burritos and macaroni and cheese. And they found the last bag of Trader Joes's vegetable pot stickers today. I'm so glad I'm allergic to all of it!

What I did cook today was sauteed spinach with garlic for dinner. I think I had oil-packed sardines on whole wheat bread at lunch. Breakfast was scrambled eggs with shredded zucchini. I snacked on a handful of raw almonds. And I splurged on one item...real bad. I found a tub of ricotta in the back of the fridge...and we made love. See, that's what happens when I only eat a total of 900 calories by the end of the day. I feel really yucky right now. I've never eaten ricotta like that before. Yes, I've splurged on a fat, rounded tablespoon straight from the tub before, but never the whole tub. I must have needed more dairy, because I haven't had any in some time.

No, actually, I just started eating mindlessly. Because I wanted to check out of being a responsible adult for a little bit.

And look! It's midnight! I need to go to bed!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Still struggling with overeating

1800. That's my goal caloric intake. That's what I will need to eat to maintain my goal of 170 lbs. That's the caloric intake I'm trying to maintain now. It's really, really difficult for me. I seem to do fine during the day, until late afternoon through bedtime, when I make up for the difference between what I want to weigh and what I weigh now. That caloric intake is 2500.

If I could maintain the 1800 calories, I could lose 1.5 lb a week. I'd be so happy with that rate of weight loss.

I've been eating around 600 calories per meal, three meals a day, and trying to not eat after dinner. But what really happens...three meals a day, a couple of snacks in the late afternoon. It doesn't matter that they're really healthy foods, because calories are calories.

I've tried having smaller meals. I get really hungry if I eat less than 500 calories! And then I'm even hungrier later in the day! Atleast with the Medifast, I hit a groove with the really low calories and after a week on it I was fine with 1200 calories a day. Perhaps I should just go back to making my own meal replacement shakes. I have three jars of whey protein powder. If I have three 400 calorie meals a day and then have three 200 calorie shakes between meals, maybe that'll help.

So that's what I'll do this week. I still have several boxes of the Medifast eggs, which are soy-free.

Breakfast: Eggs, veggies, steel cut oats - 430 calories

Mid-morning snack: Chocolate banana shake - 200 calories

Lunch: Tossed greens salad, sardines packed in olive oil, whole grain toast - 480 calories

Mid-afternoon snack: Mango-peach shake - 200 calories

Dinner: fillet of sole, Kashi whole grain pilaf, broccoli - 420 calories

That puts me near target for calories. It's a little higher than I want for carbs, but the fiber is at 38 gm, which is great! Maybe that will help me feel full.

I'll try to stick to this format for meal plan the rest of the week. We leave on Monday for a trip to San Diego. I have to plan ahead for that trip too!

Monday, October 5, 2009

That dang omentum!

I put on the dress that I bought at Macy's over the weekend. I sill love it! But I have one problem with it. It's my sticks out in front!

The omentum is a webby membrane that runs across the front of the belly area to hold in the intestines. As Dr. Oz loves to show and tell, a healthy omentum is all lacy and pretty, a creamy yellow color, and it doesn't take too much space. But an unhealthy omentum, it's as bad as having unhealthy smoker's lungs. It's a dark golden color, lumpy and massive, and it squishes and crowds the organs.

The omentum grows excessively when one has a lot a stress. It's why stressed middle-agers have lots of belly fat. My omentum is lumped all in front. When I weighed 50lbs heavier, it was rather firm and obvious. People thought I was pregnant. It still sticks out (which doesn't make for a flattering silhouette at all!), but it's not as pronounced and it's much softer now. I want to get rid of that lump altogether and transform my omentum into something which Dr. Oz would be proud.

I've been scouring the Internet (my favorite hobby) for information on how to address my obtrusive omentum and this is what I've discovered: when one makes an effort to lose weight, the omentum is one of the areas that loses fat first. It won't reduce entirely before everything else, but it does go reduce at a higher rate than the rest of the body. That explains why a lot of my clothes got looser through the middle first before anything else.

Another thing I learned is that no amount of crunches, sit-ups or core exercises will reduce the omentum. But intense cardio will. It seems to be the area where fat required for aerobic exercise comes first. A healthy liver is important as well, and there are nutrients to help support the liver.

To prevent future additions to my omentum, I have to learn how to manage stress much better, because that's a huge contributor. I also need to continue to manage my carbohydrates because an unhealthy omentum just loves sucking up insulin and makes my pancreas work too hard. I'll keep taking Ceylon cinnamon capsules and eating whole grains and low carb fiber sources.

And until that omentum drops down to a shapely form, I'll be wearing my Spanks to manage the jiggles.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

A good day!

It's just about time for bed, nearly midnight...but I had to just drop a few words about my day. I went shopping for new stylish clothes. I bought two jackets and a dress, at Macy's and Nordstroms at Stoneridge Mall in Pleasanton. I went with my sister, we lunched and chatted at PF Chang's where I ordered the spinach stir-fry with garlic (YUM!) and chicken with veggies that they prepared for me without soy. It was spicy and delicious! Later we stopped for a cup of coffee and a pumpkin bar at Nordstroms. We walked a good portion of the mall. Wish I had worn more comfortable shoes, because then I would have cruised the whole mall. Because I was feeling really good!

Thanks to Eric, our waiter at PF Chang's who got my soy-free order worked out for me. I gave him a nice tip. Such a cutie! But he had no ass! Come to my house, little boy. I'll feed you!

Friday, October 2, 2009

"Always be a first-rate version of yourself..."

"...instead of a second-rate version of somebody else." -Judy Garland

That struck a chord in me today. I was just watching Project Runway. It reminds me about who I used to want to be, and I miss it! I used to want to be a fashion designer. I'm a really good seamstress. In fact, I'm a custom clothier. I love to design. I love textiles and what I can do with them. I love to draft patterns. I want to do this again.

I used to do the work for many years, on a small scale. Wedding dresses mostly. Weddings were my undoing. I don't have the temprament for that sort of emotional work. I don't like working under high-pressure conditions. At the time, I didn't know how to separate my clients' emotional issues from mine, so I took criticism very personally. And I worked like a dog. I haven't sewed for anyone in many years. It was like my talent and my inspiration left me because I wasn't caring for it properly.

I think I'm ready to nurture it again. I think I can earn it back, and I want to exercise my talent again...for me. I'm ready to create my first-rate version of myself, for me, with the intent of allowing my gift to blossom and be useful once again. I'm also toying with the idea of working as a custom clothier and stylist strictly for plus-size professional women. I know I have it in me. But I won't be making that decision yet.

First I have to find my first-rate version of me. From Staging Your Comeback, I'm finding that my primary style is as I suspected, Innovative and Classic, with a bit of Dramatic and Casual thrown in, as the mood takes me. My style buzzwords include: imaginative, creative, elegant, stylish, natural, comfortable, distinctive and striking.

My shape is definitely a triangle, with my hips wider in proportion to my bust. I'm glad to read the author addressing how an older triangle can get thicker in the middle and still be a triangle. That describes me perfectly!

What I never considered before was my vertical proportion. I'm tall, nearly six-feet tall. Sleeves are never long enough on shirts, tops and jackets never fit properly through the waist (they're usually too high). But in the last few years, I've been buying pants at one or two stores that offer a tall length and I've noticed that even if I wear high-heels, the pants are too long. I began to wonder if my proportions leaned toward a long torso and shorter legs. I just measured myself. I'm pretty balanced between my upper and lower torso. I'm just tall, and no one makes tops and jackets sized properly for my torso and arms.

I have an average neck that's gotten shorter with a well-rounded chin. I have narrow shoulders that are starting to round a bit. (Yeah! Shoulder pads!) My bustline is smallish and each breast is racing towards my waistline, which isn't cooperating and is heading south as well. My upper arms are very heavy and sagging, which has gotten more pronounced since I've lost weight. My forearms are starting to get a little slimmer but they're giggly as well. I have big square hands with large palms (the better to milk a goat with, my dear) and the base of my fingers are wider and fleshier than my knuckles (thanks Grandpa!)

My waist is thicker than it used to be, and it's dropped so that my hip length is shorter. So when I buy regular-waist pants, they ride really high. Low-rise pants seem to fit a little better and sit almost at my waist. If I get pants that fit my hips, the waist is huge. My front belly used to be bigger than my backside, before I started to lose weight, but now they're almost evenly split.

My hips are wide, but my inner thighs are really thick. I wish I could lose that first. Well, actually, second, after my batwing arms. No, third, after my big belly too. My knees are chunky (always have been), my calves are developed, but my ankles are actually slender! Big old feet, size 11W. I had my feet measured recently...from the heel to the ball of my feet, I'm a size 10, and from the ball to the end of my toes, I make up the distance with extra long toes. When I buy pumps, the heels always slip off my feet as I walk!

I have a big head too. But you probably already guessed that.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Approaching the cheating hour

I'm getting ready to take my son to taekwondo. And I'm hungry! I took the hoodia earlier, ate half a turkey wrap, took a little nap, picked up my older son from school, came home, felt hungry again so I sliced a piece of homemade whole wheat bread, sliced some tomatoes and red onions over it, drizzled a little olive oil and a cumbled ounce of feta cheese on it. 232 calories. Yum! And I'm still hungry!

I'm trying to wait 20 minutes. My blood sugar dropped before I ate, so I'm still feeling the effects of that. And in those sorts of moments I don't think the hoodia affected me, except a few minutes after I took the single capsule I felt a little nausea and then shortly after that had to go No. 2 in the worst way. If that happens again after I take another dose of it, I'm going to set it aside for emergency purposes.

So between writing and talking with the lawyer and watching the Gilmore Girls, 40 minutes have gone by and I'm still hungry. If I leave for taekwondo in this state, I'm going to fall into McDonald's on the way! I think I should eat something else before I go. Sardines. On a Wasa cracker. That'll bring my calories (lunch and snack) up to 500. Hope that helps!

I forgot to drink my grapefruit juice. Maybe I'll try that first.

I really don't want to lose my resolve and head for a double cheeseburger.


I love how I feel on successfully soy-free days! I got a lot done this morning in the house. It's lunchtime now and I'm not sure what I want to eat yet, but I know I'm starting to feel hungry, so it's a good time to make a wise choice. I think I'm going to try some Hoodia today. I want to see how it affect how much I eat. It's supposed to suppress appetite, but if that's only about hunger, this may not work...we'll see. I'll start with a single capsule, 250 mg, at the start of each meal. There's no soy in this product.

I found a probiotic product that was soy free. It comes in capsule form and I'm ordering it from Amazon. The one I've been taking has really made a positive difference with my digestive tract. I'm much more regular and I seem to be doing better with dairy products. I'm looking forward to experiencing other benefits from this sort of product, but the one I've been taking for the last month has soy in it.

I backed off taking supplements for awhile. I'm not sure I believe in them. but since my diet is so restricted in content, I'm inclined to start taking them again. I've got a big bin of supplements that are all current for use. I think I'll start with the Nature Made Diabetes Health Pack. It's definitely soy free.

I've been taking SamE and l-tyrosine every morning on an empty stomach for the last month and I believe I'm seeing a benefit to that. My mood is much improved and fairly even. My joints are starting to feel better. And since I'm on diuretic and bp meds, it's supposed to help with liver health. I'm also taking l-tyrosine with that, to help with depression and mental fatigue. I'm considering taking 5-HTP for help with mood as well as appetite suppression, but I'll take it at night as it may make me sleepy.

It's 1 p.m and I'm a little hungry, but I'm also sleepy. I'm feeling or nap. I think I'll nap!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009


Going back to Staging Your Comeback, my next assignment is to explore my excuses for not taking better care of myself, for letting myself go. I'm already getting knots in my stomach...

  1. I would have to say that the biggest reason I haven't taken care of myself is because I just haven't felt well. On day when I feel really good, I dress for it. I long for clothes that bring out the best in me. On days when I feel like crap and I am forced to dress up, I feel so uncomfortable and I can't wait to get home to change into something soft and comforting.

  2. I don't like what's in my closet.

Based on that first reason alone, I have a fresh perspective on caring for myself and moving towards optimum health. My personal healthcare has been rather reactive in nature. I didn't put alot of thought into caring for myself. What ever healthy eating/living that had been occuring in my life was more due to preference choices (I like vegetables, I didn't really like fried foods, I enjoyed dance classes, I don't enjoy heavy drinking, etc.) I guess that's more about being young and not feeling the effects of poor health just yet. Feeling older is quite a wake-up call!

So it would follow that the better I care for my health, the better I'll feel, and the better I'll want to look in order to reflect my inner state of wellbeing. And that's where what's in my closet comes in. I've been buying based on how I felt for a very long time, so the closet is full of schlumpy clothes. T-shirts, jeans, lots of the same dreary colors. There are a few pieces that I really like, but they're not complete outfits yet. I really need to get sewing again!

I was looking at the Ann Taylor website today. There's this silk shirt dress that I want to copy. It's very sophisticated. The cuffs are elegant. The fabric has a slight stretch to it. I need to find some similar fabric.

This morning on one of the "this-is-how-you're-supposed-to-live-your-life+news/weather" morning shows, I saw some fashions made with sweatshirt fabrics. This could be a good thing, provided they were made properly. Comfort and style. A soft plum structured blazer over a crisp white tailored shirt and a pair of dark jeans. A heathered gray ruana wrap over a dove gray cashmere turtleneck and dark wool flannel slacks. And lots of layered pearls and chains. Very Coco Chanel.

Just to make sure I was working on the right issue, I actually looked what it means to "let oneself go"...according to sources on the Internet, it's an idiom that means to let one's appearance and health suffer or to neglect one's personal hygiene and appearance. According to Oprah (& co.), this is why we women do this:

Women aren't on their own list of priorities. After taking care of everyone else, they are always putting themselves last on the list, and often have very little left to give. There are many women who aren't living—they are just existing. This is a form of self-abuse. Women often wear their exhaustion as a badge of honor. The more you do for your loved ones, the more acceptable it becomes to "let yourself go." Women believe it's okay to become a "sacrificial lamb" within their own

This rings true for me. I was not raised to put my self-maintenance high on my priority list. I still struggle with feeling guilty over it. Going to get a massage feels like a guilty pleasure. I don't even tell my mother about it, and yet I really need it in order to maintain my health. I remember my mother commenting about a woman with three children who took time to maintain her nails. She concluded that she was not a good woman. I still don't get my nails done more than once every quarter.

I'm worried if I don't care for myself, I'm not exhibiting some sort of self-respect and in turn, my sons will come to view women with less respect. It's already tough to convince adolescents that hygiene is important to their health. They don't seem to care what others think of them. I didn't have any sort of model at home regarding hygiene when I was growing up. Without a father around, I'm wondering how to do this for my boys.

That's it! I've got to call the salon for a hair appointment next week. I've got a Pepe Le Pew stripe going along my hairline and my hair is looking tired and untidy. Time for a color and cut. And maybe a good full body exfoliating treatment.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Biggest L...

I just watched Biggest Loser for the first time. I'll never get those two hours back. What a monumental waste of my time!

That's all the time I need to spend on that topic.

Today was a good day, a recovery day. Got the grocery shopping done, household chores, I walked, baked bread, shuttled kids. For dinner I cooked turkey cutlets simmered in a Thai curry sauce with coconut milk and Thai seasonings and layered cauliflower and baby carrots on top. Served that with brown and wild rice. Yum!

I went rather high with the calories today, around 2300. Carbs and fats were higher than normal due to some Trader Joe's naan I had with hummus for lunch. And the coconut milk. But I so rarely have the coconut milk, like once every six months. Sometimes I just have a really strong craving for it.

I like drinking 4 oz of unsweetened grapefruit juice just before I eat these days. I noticed it helps pop my blood sugar back up so that when I do eat, I don't overeat if I let myself get too hungry before the meal. A 2 oz shot is good in between meals as well, if I don't make a point of eating in a timely fashion.

I need to get to bed now. I noticed a bad habit of pushing myself well past my bedtime when I'm feeling good. Need to stop doing that!

Monday, September 28, 2009

It's like I'm on Alli

I don't want to keep talking about the effects of my soy allergy, but I'm having another bad day again.

Years ago, before it became an over-the-counter drug, my doctor prescribed orlistat to me in an effort for me to cut my fat intake. I had stopped using butter and other unhealthy fats, but I wanted to eliminate more fat from my diet. Using the drug had a dual effect on me. It deleted a portion of fat that I ingested, as if I had never eaten it, but in the process, there were treatment effects (quite a bit of intestinal discomfort and I had a lot of diarreah) which made me want to avoid eating the fats to begin with.

Soy is doing something like that to me now, without so much intestinal discomfort. I accidently ate something with soy in it this morning, and now my morning is shot. And I'm angry, because I was careless and now I feel horrible and my time is wasted because I'm achy and lethargic all over again. I was so happy yesterday, a completely soy-free day, full of energy. I got a lot done and that felt good. I was looking forward to getting even more done today. I'm feeling rather worthless right now.

To stay on track, I'm going to get rid of all the soy in the house. The boys will have to live soy free as well.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Lazy Sundays

I'm rebelling against fashion today. I'm wearing sweats and an old t-shirt at the moment. They're not stained or torn, by the way. I'm not actually being lazy today. I'm in the middle of doing laundry and ironing, plus I've been helping my oldest son clean and organize his bedroom. I already cooked and did the dishes, and the downstairs is clean. I'm taking a couple of hours to watch a movie about Coco Chanel.

I miss sewing. I miss making beautiful clothes. As I watch the actress doing her needle work and listen to her talk couture, I grow wistful for a good fabric stash and a sewing room. I would kill for some Swiss or funky Liberty print lawn right now. Actually, I just want a lot of cash so I can fly to London to shop for fabric. *sigh*

Okay, I understand not wearing sweats in public everyday. But do I have to be dressed up at home if I know I'm not going anywhere? I want to be comfortable.

It's hot again today, supposed to get to 101. Blech. I don't want to leave the comfort of my air conditioned bedroom.

I think I need a nap.

How does one determine/develop/apply personal style?

I've gone a little deeper into the first chapter of Staging Your Comeback and it's bringing up anger in me. I'm experiencing a lot of anxiety in my chest, resentment, deep sadness...tears are on the brink. This is definitely something I need to work through before I can move forward with other issues.

I realized just a few moments ago that I don't have a vision of what my life will be like on the other side of recovering from health issues, divorce issues and losing weight. I don't see myself past all this current turmoil. I don't see myself. I think about what my days look like now, lots of household chores, busy work, raising sons, dousing minor dramas at my parents' house. None of that feeds my soul. I'm not emotionally, spiritually or creatively nourished by it. It doesn't help me move forward. I feel very mired by it all. I still don't know where I'm going. How will I know when I've arrived?

What does all that have to do with my appearance? I have no idea what to wear every day! I'd like to dress for me, but I don't know who I am? I thought about it in terms of my daily first thing in the morning, I put on exercise gear. Then later I change into housekeeping and errand-running clothes. How do I interject a sense of personal style into that lifestyle? Why would I bother applying cosmetics and hair product for that?

There's a section in the book about determining one's personal style. I'll keep you posted...

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Staging my comeback

I was at Target today with the boys, and while they were going rabid through the video game section, I meandered over to the books. I don't shop for books at Target, because I find their selection to be a little too "pop culture" for me. All the cookbooks were by TV personalities. All the novels had a vampire featured. All the self-help were by Dr. Phil. Nope, that's not workin' for me!

Then I saw Staging Your Comeback: A Complete Beauty Revival for Women Over 45 by Christopher Hopkins. Okay, I wasn't expecting that. I had just left Subway, where the boys and I had lunch, and I saw a parade of women in their 50s and 60s with their breasts pressed together and spilling out of their little t-shirts, capri pants showcasing varicose veins, and smeared red liptstick. I recalled thinking that's what divorcees on the prowl look like and I didn't ever want to go there. So, in light of yesterday's blogging, I caved and bought the book, hoping that I could find my place in the world of beauty.

I'm reading the first chapter right now. There's a quote by Helena Rubenstein: "There are no ugly women, only lazy ones". Is my perceived lack of effort over my appearance rooted in laziness? Well, I suppose a certain amount of it, but I'd rather ascribe it to a different system of priorities, and my personal beauty regimen needed to be very minimal for a portion of my life. Even now, with a burgeoning desire to improve my appearance, I don't know when I'll be able to do this, or how much of my resources to invest in it. What's the payout? Will I feel better about myself? Will I feel more confident? Will I get more done? Will I be able to move mountains? (Because I've always wanted to do that.)

In the first chapter, on page 8, there's a task...List Your Wants. The author asks for a list of my beauty aspirations, how I'd love to look if everything were perfect in my world. Okay, I'll bite:
  1. I'll start from the top...I like my hair. I have a lot of hair. As I've gotten older, it's gotten coarser. There's now a distinct wave to it. Not enough to let it dry naturally and it falls in gentle tendrils around my face. It get's a little frizzy. I wish I could manipulate it so that I could put one product in it to make the gentle tendrils happen for me, and let it dry "naturally", and then go through another procedure to get it shiny and straight. I know that all exists. I'm just not sure how. I don't like having the same haircut for long periods of time. I like to experiment, but I don't want to look trendy. I want to look womanly.
  2. I have the early signs of rosacea and very dry skin, but with the soy allergy, I have a hard time finding products to address that and even my skin tone without causing my eyes to water. My skin is still fairly wrinkle-free, except for some lines across my forehead. Wish I could erase those. As I've lost weight, the skin under my jawline has gotten a little crepe-like and loose, so I'd like that firmed up somewhat. And my eyelids are heavier now as well, so a bit of a brow lift would be nice. But I wish I could do all that without surgery.
  3. I want clean, shiny white teeth and healthy gums to show off a healthy smile. I can do that on my own. I have good teeth. Just need to put more regular effort into them.
  4. I need a mole harvest to happen. I have an awful lot of skin tags all over me. One on my eyelid, several around my neck, and other inconvenient places between my neck and hips.
  5. My skin overall feels dry and rough. But again, soy allergy prevents me from using anything with glycerin in it.
  6. I'm also rather hirsute. I've got a fair amount of chin and mustache going on now. Tried electrolysis, but it didn't work. Tried laser and that didn't work either. Now they're all white and very coarse and stiff. Not at all attractive. I don't know what to do about that. Hair removal over my arms, underarms and legs has never been a good thing for me. I tried Nair and Neet, but that never really worked. Tried waxing a couple of times, but I ended up with the worst rash! And shaving gives similar results. I usually just stay covered up.
  7. Due to the weight and my height, I have really poor circulation in my lower legs. As a result, there's some strong discoloration from blood that never circulated out of there. I don't know what to do about that at all. I can't wear dresses unless I wear boots with them. I have one pair of shorts and I only wear those at home. There have been a few occasions when I have gone out of the house in a dress or with shorts and people have stopped me to ask me what's going on with my legs...every time! It would be nice to have that go away, because I have lovely slender ankles and would look nice in a dress!
  8. I wish I could find a love for getting regular manicures and pedicures. I don't like to put color on my nails, because I'm a bit rough on the finishes. I work a lot with my hands and I always mess up the color! The whites of my nails are always very white, so a simple buffed finish is what I prefer. And I do like nice, soft heels without cracks. My skin is very dry around my feet as well.
  9. I do wish I weighed less. I'd like to have about 20% bodyfat on my. That would put me at around 180 lbs. I like feeling soft, curvy and fleshy, like a body fit for belly dancing. I want to have some really strong muscles and supple joints underneath as well. And I want my skin to be smooth and not sagging anywhere. No more batwings. No more inner thigh masses. No more thick middle and stomach overhang. And I want the "girls" to move back to where they're supposed to be. I'm not sure if I want them to be any bigger. It would be nice if I could move some of my own fat stores in there.
  10. And finally, I want really nice, natural posture.

Wow! Who knew the list was going to get so long!

I was thinking about a person to whom I'd look as a beauty icon for me and I can't think of any at the moment. Perhaps someone like Isabella Rosselini. She seems to have a very comfortable beauty. I might have chosen Sophia Loren at one point in my life, but as she has aged, she seems to have a forced beauty and sexuality about her. I don't think we women need to be so wrapped up in putting our sexuality "out there" because then our value seems to be only in our ability to sexually attract someone. And frankly, men aren't that difficult to sexually attract. As a man once told me, he could look at a parade of women of all shapes, sizes and ages walk by and entertain the idea of "doing" practically each and every one of them.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Taking care of myself

Yeah! It's Friday! Now that I'm back in the U.S. and the only parent at home, weekends are a wonderful thing! I'm working hard to keep them free from too much activity, especially early in the day, because I do love to catch up on sleep during my weekends.

I've been laying low this week. Not a lot of posting on my online support groups, and no blogging. I only weighed in once this week...309. I've just been concentrating on avoiding the soy and making healthy food choices and drinking enough water. It's TOM this week, but the diuretic pills seem to help with the excess bloating and cramping. I feel pretty good!

I visited my spa twice this week. I got a long-overdue facial and then an hour-long Thai massage. I am learning to enjoy caring for myself. I don't understand why that's so difficult. Perhaps it's another thing over which I'm rebelling.

I don't like other people telling me what I'm supposed to look like, and there's a long list of people and institutions that felt like weighing in on that responsibility, so not spending time to care for myself was a passive way of removing myself from that situation. It also costs money, and there are so many other things to spend money on that seem far more responsible. I never understood the need to spend more time/money on products and services when I was clean and tidy. I didn't like anyone telling me that participating in certain rituals would make me, somehow, into more of a woman. I know I'm a woman, I have the anatomy to prove that. I'm not confused about who I am.

Perhaps it's because I don't easily fall into any traditional catagories of women. My identity is to not conform and not be tied down by labels. My personal style is very ecclectic and my tastes vary greatly. I eschew ritual and tradition unless I find purpose in it. I know that this taxes people who are trying to get to know me. I don't believe it's a way of putting people off so I don't have to get close to them. Perhaps I am trying to find people who believe in the effort it takes to connect with me. So far, the list of good friends is very short.

Weekends are for me to take time to reconnect with myself. A long indulgent shower, plenty of water to drink, naps, organize my bedroom and bathroom. (I sooooooo love having a bedroom and bathroom to myself - with my white bed linens and white towels - I need one of those white cotton spa robes and matching slippers!)

This week I noticed the more centered and grounded I felt, the better eating choices I made. Unless there are hot dogs in the house. I always choose the hot dogs!

(I found some all beef hot dogs that are completely soy free and uncured. Trader Joe's! Yum! If they were lower in salt, they'd be perfect. I like them cut up in my scrambled eggs, or I nuke one as a quick snack in the late afternoon. I have to limit myself to just two a day, maybe twice a week. 170 calories each. My evil indulgence...)

Energy levels are still low, but mornings are getting better and better. I look forward to cooler weather coming soon so I can go out for walks.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Enthusiasm all over the floor

I'm really dragging this morning. Tried to sound positive on the weight-loss forum I belong to...blah, blah, blah. I didn't eat anything that's bringing me down today, but I don't have any energy this morning. Not enough sleep last night. It's just 9 a.m. and I already want to take a nap, but I have to go to the market first.

I was sick all weekend, fever, aches, etc. I didn't make good eating choices, so I'm back up to 310 this morning. It was the chicken noodle soup. I made it from scratch, I used whole wheat noodles, it was tasty, I wanted comforting, I ate a lot.

I watched some reruns of Biggest Loser and Last 10 Lbs. Bootcamp over the weekend. That was a mistake. I've been feeling emotionally low ever since. Bad cycle of grinding through memories and anger regarding ex-spouse, parents, poor life-choices. It was a really defeatest weekend! My best girlfriend is in China right now and I can't afford to call my therapist, so I'm trying to muscle through my funk on my own. I hope I can get through this soon, because I can't seem to get my head together to work on homework. I did clean the house and get all the laundry done and put away yesterday, so I'm not having to deal with clutter on top of a funk.

I miss my maids! I wonder if my boys would be willing to wash my windows and get all the dust and cobwebs obliterated for some money.

Today I'm making bread. I enjoy making bread. I have an amazing cookbook, The Bread Bible, by Rose Levy Berenbaum. Her recipe for "Soft White Sandwich Loaf" is perfect. Of couse, I modify it by reducing the unbleached flour by half and adding whole wheat and a little gluten flour. It makes a really lovely loaf, although not quite so lofty as the original recipe. The weather is cooler today, in the high 70s, so I'm really getting into the mood for baking. Maybe I'll make some monkey bread too!

(I know, there's lots of butter and sugar in that recipe, but I'm trying to figure out how to cut back on that. Tomorrow is my little boy's 12th birthday and I want to make some of his favorites for him. I've been playing the Buckwheat Boyz' "Ice Cream and Cake" from
the Baskin Robbins website all weekend to get him excited for his birthday. No party with lots of presents and friends this year, just a small ice cream cake, one friend, and a couple of meaningful gifts. I'm getting him a guitar tomorrow and his big brother is getting him the newest Nerf gun.)

Friday, September 11, 2009

In a quandry about alcohol

This morning I stopped at Safeway for my weekly allotment of spinach. Usually, since I live downwind of the General Mills plant, the morning air carries toasty notes of Cheerios or the hint of sugary faux vanilla from the Lucky Charms. But this morning, my nose detected the initial heady stages of wine production. It's wine-making season again!

Two weeks ago I went winery-hopping with my girlfriend Neelima. We had a better-than-good time. We had to force ourselves to get some bready sandwiches half into our excursion, because we started to get far too friendly with each other, gushing with complements. I seem to recall a "Damn! You go girl!" spilled out of my mouth a couple of times. We found some really delightful wines. So far, I think the Michael-David Petite Petit 2006 is my favorite, a fruity and smooth vintage blend of Syrah and Verdot. I bought six bottles. If you stop at the Phillips Farms Fruitstand Cafe at Hwy 12 and I-5, wine tasting is free on weekdays. And the more you buy, the more you save. (They make some amazing fruit pies as well, and you can take them home!)

But last week, I had to start taking my blood pressure meds. Damn! I really was going to start drinking a glass of wine every night with my dinner! The more I read about drinking alcohol in moderation, the more I like the idea. All I want is a glass of good wine or a single mixed drink. I'd have a Tanqueray and soda with lime while I'm cooking dinner, or the Petite Petit with dinner, or even a fine glass of Taylor 40-year-old tawny port. I even have all three in place, but my bp meds say to not drink alcohol when I'm taking them. But I have to question that. I take my meds in the morning, first thing. I don't want to drink until after 6 p.m. I don't want to drink more than 8 oz. of wine or port or a shot or two of distilled alcohol. I know, I should call my pharmacist and see what he says.

I just read online (so, you's true!) that drinking more than two 8 0z. alcoholic beverages a day can cause a rise in bp, but alternately, a single drink per day for women, and two for men, is safe and actually helpful. But the article also states to talk to your doctor before doing that. Okay, so I'll talk to my doctor.

I hope she says it's okay, because I've also got a couple of bottles of the Michael-David 2006 Incognito Viognier that would be awesome with sushi!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

NSV of the week

(In the weight-loss forum universe, an NSV is a non-scale victory.)

Over a year ago I bought myself a pair of boots. They were specifically made for those with really wide calves. At the time, my calves were 19.5" in circumfrence. Most boot shafts come in 13" to 14" circumfrences. Maybe...someday...but not yet.

So, I'm looking at my closet to decide what to wear to my parents' 50th anniversary party at a local Greek restaurant on Sunday. I've been saving this one dress, a wrap-style dress with a pretty Pucci-like geometric print in purple, cream and black. My stomach used to protrude a little too unattractively in the center front and the sleeves, while stretchy, were on the snug side. I tried the dress on last night. My stomach is not so noticable any longer, and the sleeves are actually loose!

Because of the discoloration of my skin on my lower legs, I don't wear short dresses any longer. It's why I bought the boots last year. This dress would look great if I wore the boots with it. So I put on the whole ensemble last night, and the boots are now way too loose! In fact, they're downright floppy! I need to have the shafts reduced in size by at least 1.5".

(I can't find anyone locally who will do this for me, so I might need to do it myself on my sewing machine. I need to go get a set of leather needles and some leather glue. But that's not going to happen before Sunday evening, so I ordered another pair of boots from Zappos just now.)

I waited a few hours before deciding to eat breakfast this morning, drank a lot of water, and right now, I'm feeling pretty good. Energy is higher than yesterday, I'm getting some housework done, and I'm about to do some upper body resistance training again.

I think tomorrow will be the day I officially start Pilates at home. I let my mother borrow my DVD, but she says it's too hard for her to do, so she gave it back to me. I'm going to move the furniture in the morning, throw a mat down and do my 35 minutes warm-up to Gaiam's AM Stretch DVD, and then the Pilates DVD.

Someone is coming by this afternoon to buy some of my Medifast stock. So I'll get some money back for it, which will pay for my younger son's birthday. He's turning 12 next week. Yesterday, I conned him into attending a taekwando class. He was really resistant, and when I pulled up to the studio, he snapped on his sulk-face really fast. I dragged him in, we chatted with the owner/instructor and I think we both got a really good feeling about the guy. So my son agreed to try the first free class. By the end of the hour, he made new friends and he actually picked up the moves pretty quickly. He even admitted to liking it!

I'm so glad he agreed to commit to taekwando for the remainder of the school year. Without a strong, positive male roll model around, he was foundering for direction. As is evident by my writing here, the Discipline crayon was not included in my Crayola life-skills set. But my little boy somehow got a dose of it. In him I see a natural ability to organize and maintain his life. We want to nurture that, because other people seem to appreciate that quality, although it confounds and escapes me and my older son, aka The Free-Thinking Artists Club.

I have been good about taking my meds everyday for over a week now! That's progress, right?